Stirling cycle heat pumps for industrial heat recovery

Heat pump based on the Stirling cycle able to use wide temperature sources will enable reuse of industrial heat.


The Regents of the University of California, Merced


Merced, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Update

The project was approved in May 2020 and kicked off in June. [br/][br/]Project efforts focus on system modeling to enhance the porous media description of the regenerator and piston models, evaluate their transient response, and couple these to the thermodynamic system models.[br/][br/]The project is underway according to schedule.

The Issue

There are three primary challenges limiting heat pump usage in industrial heat recovery: (1) Current heat pumps are unable to provide heat at temperatures necessary for many industrial applications. (2) The efficiency of high temperature heat pumps is too low to justify their implementation in many industrial contexts. (3) Finally, the high capital cost of heat pumps makes them uncompetitive with traditional heating sources.

Project Innovation

The Recipient will develop a novel Stirling cycle with liquid piston technology that: alleviates temperature limits imposed by refrigerants experiencing phase change, improves heat transfer performance, and reduces construction complexity and cost.

Project Benefits

This project could result in improvements to industrial heat pump efficiency based on the implementation of Stirling cycles and liquid piston technology. The use of industrial heat pumps for heat recovery will reduce energy usage for heating, resulting in the ratepayer benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and reduced energy consumption.

Lower Costs

Lower Costs

This project will implement liquid pistons to simplify construction and reduce the cost of industrial heat pumps useful for waste heat recovery. It has the potential to lower capital and installation costs by 30% and operational costs by 20%.

Key Project Members

Project Member

James Palko

Contact the Team